Six athletes completed a clean sweep of wins at all three competitions on the 2013 Asian Grand Prix circuit with victories at the Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo on Sunday (12).
India’s 5000m runner Nitendra Singh and Chinese shot putter Wang Like, the latter winning with a season best 19.20m, which was arguably the best performance of the day in the Sri Lankan capital, were the men who completed the hat trick while four female athletes: Kazakstan’s Viktoriya Zyabkina in the 100m, India’s M. R. Poovamma over 400m, Uzbek long jumper Darya Reznichenko and local Sri Lankan javelin thrower Nadeeka Lakmali ended up with that distinction in the women’s events.
By contrast, while those six could afford satisfied smiles, London 2012 Olympic Games 100m Hurdles champion Sally Pearson was left in tears as Australia was disqualified for a zone violation in the 4x100m Relay which also saw the Australian ‘B’ team failing to finish as Thailand won in a modest 45.33.
There had been considerable publicity related to Pearson’s participation in this meeting after Australia had entered guest teams on the Asian circuit and they lived up to their expectations four days ago at the second leg in Chonburi, Thailand, with an outing in 44.06, but they met with disaster on this occasion.
If Pearson’s many Sri Lankan fans were left as disappointed their spirits were raised during the men’s High Jump which saw Sri Lanka’s two-time Asian champion Manjula Kumara Wijesekara the only man to go clear at 2.24m for the second best Asian performance of the year so far.
He then had the bar raised to 2.28m and had two unsuccessful attempts at adding a centimetres to his own national record before tiredness dictated that he called it a day.
Now 29, Wijesekara has had an injury-interrupted career that has put a brake on him fulfilling his potential until now.
At the age of 20 in 2004, he cleared a still-standing national record of 2.27m, equalling the best height by an Asian high jumper that year and a feat which earned him a trip to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and a scholarship to the University of Southern California.
He equalled that height the following year when winning at the Asian Championships in Korea, another performance that saw him end the year as the joint-best Asian high jumper, and it seemed only a matter of time before joined the small and elite club of Asian athletes who had cleared 2.30m or better.
However, injuries halted his progress in subsequent years although he regained his Asian title in 2009.
Manjula’s triumph on Sunday ended the winning streak of India’s Jithin Thomas, who managed 2.21m to take the second place on a count back.
The women’s High Jump also saw some good heights with Uzbekistan’s 2010 Asian Games silver medallist Nadiya Dusanova the clear winner as the only woman over 1.93m, just two centimetres shy of her best.
The field events generally took centre stage in Colombo and there was also an Uzbek winner in the women’s Long Jump when Reznichenko leapt out to 6.34m.
Perhaps the best performance on the track came from India’s M.R Poovamma, who again dominated the women’s 400 metres, though she could missed out on her target of going under 53 seconds and had to settle for a win in 53.30.
Another three-time winner in this year’s Grand Prix series, Sri Lankan javelin thrower Nadeeka Lakmali, an Asian Championship bronze winner in 2007, was just seven centimetres short of her personal best with a throw of 58.41m.
The winning sequence of Kazakhstan’s Roman Valiyev in Triple Jump was broken by India’s 20-year-old Arpinder Singh who jumped 16.70m to win. Valiyev, who had won in Bangkok with his second best ever effort of 17.10m, could only reach 16.42m for second place on this occasion.
The women’s Discus produced a surprise winner with 18-year-old Liang Yan upstaging her compatriots, Jiang Fengjing, the first leg winner, and Su Xinyue, who won the second, as well as India’s Krishna Poonia, the seventh place finisher at the London 2012 Olympics Games.
In wet conditions, with the event early in the programme before the weather improved later in the day,, Liang threw 57.67 to win by eight centimetres from Jiang as everyone struggled, including Poonia who had travelled straight from competing in the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha on Friday and could only manage a modest 55.41m for the third place.
A correspondent for the IAAF